A man who disdains euphemisms

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The recent news concerning Dr Philip Nitschke, Exit International and the suicide death of two men who were not terminally ill has forced the Australian public to confront the issue of assisting someone to die.

As Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt points out, this is not something new. Nor is the public commentary from Dr Nitschke at the pointed end of the debate: when a bill is before an Australian legislature.

When Nitschke comments on such bills there's a noticeable cringe factor among state-based supporters of such legislation, with the most common response being that Nitschke's comments 'are not helpful'.

Even though these organisations have always been effectively 'on the same page' as Nitschke in seeking legislative change, what they reject is essentially that Nitschke tells it like it is. To his credit, he shuns euphemisms and advocates directly for any adult to die by euthanasia or assisted suicide… click here to read whole article and make comments



Killing Me Softly: a New Zealand report on euthanasia

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Over the past 20-odd years New Zealand has seen three legislative attempts to legalise euthanasia. Only the first (1995) went through the legislative process – where it was defeated by 61 to 29 votes. The third, introduced only last year by Labour MP Maryan Street, was withdrawn by her from the private members’ bill ballot to prevent it becoming a “political football” in the general elections being held this year.

There is no doubt, however, that if Labour was able to form a government after the September elections the Street Bill would reappear. They and the Green Party (their likely coalition partner) regard it as their mission to advance “progressive” causes – as the passing of New Zealand’s same-sex marriage law in April last year showed.

It is particularly easy to push such controversial issues through the New Zealand legislative system since it is unicameral (there is no upper house) and has only 120 members. Similarly there are few national… click here to read whole article and make comments



“Yes” to euthanasia brings a seismic shift in values

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Why, after millenniums of prohibiting the intentional killing of another human being, in particular by physicians, did Quebec politicians think euthanasia is a “progressive” idea that must be implemented without delay? Bill 52, originally introduced by the Parti Québécois government, was rapidly reintroduced by the Liberals and passed Thursday.

Why did Quebec politicians fail to give sufficient weight to the dangers and harms of legalizing euthanasia, especially to vulnerable people — those who are old and fragile or disabled, and whose lives are denigrated by euthanasia’s message that they are not worth living?

Why have their ethical imaginations, human memories (knowledge of history) and examined emotions failed to warn them that they are on the wrong path? Did they fail to distinguish between obligations to kill people’s suffering through good palliative care and pain management, and killing the person with the suffering? Did they fail to… click here to read whole article and make comments



Quebec legalises euthanasia

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Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in the National Assembly this week.    

Quebec has become the first Canadian province to legalise euthanasia. Bill 52 easily passed in the National Assembly yesterday by a vote of 94 to 22. “I want to congratulate ourselves as parliamentarians,” said Carole Poirier, of the Parti Quebecois. “Quebec is a beautiful society, and again today Quebec has just shown that we are really, really a different society.”

Under the new law, an adult who is terminally ill, of sound mind, and in constant and unbearable physical and psychological pain may request a lethal injection. Quebec now joins the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg as the fourth jurisdiction in which euthanasia is legal. Assisted suicide is legal in across the border in Washington state and Oregon, but not euthanasia. 

The battle over the controversial law is not over, however.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Deacon arrested over Belgian euthanasia deaths

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Breaking news from a number of sources says that Belgian police have charged a 57-year-old man with 10 cases of illegal euthanasia. The man, identified as a Catholic deacon from the town of Wevelgem, was working in the Sacred Heart Hospital in Menin until 2002. Afterwards he continued part-time as a pastoral assistant until 2011.  The deaths seem to have taken place between the early 1980s and 2011.

Belgium’s euthanasia laws came into effect in 2002 presumably rendering any euthanasia deaths before that time subject to the Belgian criminal code on homicide.

The fact that these deaths are supposed to have occurred in a Catholic Hospital at the hands of a man holding the position of Deacon will be a significant embarrassment to the Catholic Church in Belgium. The Diocese of Bruges has commented that "Euthanasia and Deacon are two words that should not be in… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why would a euthanasia practitioner tour Auschwitz?

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Tourists at the entrance to Auschwitz   

The leading practitioner of euthanasia in Belgium, Dr Wim Distelmans, is organizing an instructional tour to Auschwitz,  the Nazi extermination camp in October. In an invitation for healthcare professionals he describes Auschwitz as an ‘inspiring’ surrounding in which to ‘clarify confusion about euthanasia’.

In fact, Dr Distelmans’s tour does help to clarify matters: it shows that how little distance there is between Belgian euthanasia in 2014 and Nazi death camps in 1944.

Linking the right to die and the Nazis is a no-no in most circles. In fact, opponents are usually deemed to have lost the argument as soon as they mention the word “Nazi”. But Dr Distelmans’s breath-taking initiative could change that rule. To hold a seminar on euthanasia in an extermination camp where the idea of ‘lives not worth living’ took its most extreme form, is… click here to read whole article and make comments



When life sentences draw to a close

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Angola State Prison in Louisiana is one of the largest maximum security prisons in the world. Louisiana’s sentencing laws are strict and half of the 5,000 inmates will die in prison. This is a very moving documentary about men coming to the end of their sentence and the men who care for them. Brilliant. 

click here to read whole article and make comments


SUNDAY, 4 MAY 2014

Botched executions and euthanasia

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It is false that “medical aid in dying” always provides a quiet death. No, euthanasia is a violent gesture, for the person killed as well as for the physician.

Those who wish to legalise “medical aid in dying” state that we must give an easier death for those at end of life. They say that euthanasia is the way to do it. However, there are clear indications that euthanasia often is a rather violent death.

Let’s take the recent cases of two death-row inmates, Clayton Lockett and Dennis McGuire, where the execution by lethal injection went extremely badly. Lockett took 26 minutes to die. Witnesses say that he was gasping for breath the whole time. McGuire died more than an hour after the injection, from a heart attack, after the injection ruptured a vein, botching the execution. Yet, it is the executioner’s job to conduct these procedures properly.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Belgium: accelerating down the slippery slope

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Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal.

The Society has decided (decreed may be a better word) that it is acceptable medical practice to euthanase patients in critical care who do not appear to have long to live -- even if they are not suffering, even if they are not elderly, even if their relatives have not requested it, even if they have not requested it and even if it is not legal.

The Society spells out its policy very carefully. It is not about grey areas like withdrawing burdensome or futile treatment or balancing pain relief against shortening a patient’s life. It clearly states that “shortening the dying process by administering sedatives beyond what is needed for… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hard cases make bad euthanasia laws

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The pro-euthanasia lobby often promotes media reports of people facing difficult prognoses who wish to end their lives rather than face inevitable deterioration. Such persons often become, for a short while, celebrities for a macabre cause. The media attention can even become addictive and provide, a distraction from their suffering or a raison d’etre.

But are these stories really a substantive reason for changing the law? I would argue, no.

In a debate in Launceston, Tasmania, a few years back a delightful woman on the other side of the debate told the story of her husband who had motor neurone disease and took his own life rather than face the trajectory of deterioration. She described the understood trajectory of MND in some detail. I imagine that she was describing a worst-case scenario.

One could easily understand the anguish of what her late husband was facing: he was… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at editor@mercatornet.com.

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